Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date: August 9th, 2012
Republished with persmission from:
The opposition to Fargo’s plan to dam the area rivers started over coffee in the church basement at Hickson Lutheran. It began at city council meetings in Oxbow, with rural Cass and Kindred people forming a group called “Stop the Dam,” and with June Kopp and Scott Hendrickson inviting their neighbors to the Christine Community Center.
With little voice and even less unity, the communities in southern Cass and Clay, northern Richland and Wilkin counties continued to meet, to talk and to try to survive. We wrote noble sounding editorials objecting to the flooding of our communities and promising to fight. Fargo’s chief publicist labeled us myopic, parochial and tin foil hat conspiracy nuts.
We sometimes went different directions, seeking to save our communities, but we never went away. Disunity was encouraged by our opponents with messaging meant to lead some to believe the dam might be moved south of Hickson – Oxbow. Those south of Highway 46 were told to relax “it’s a process . . . you will be taken care of in the design phase.”
The early days are gone and so is our lack of unity. The Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority includes the following political townships, cities, counties and school districts in two states and five counties. North Dakota member entities include: Richland County, Dickey County; cities Oxbow, Kindred, Colfax, city of Christine, Mooreton, Abercrombie; Bakke Addition Association; townships of Pleasant, Nansen, Eagle, Sheyenne, Walcott, Brandenburg, Colfax, Maple River, Viking, Mooreton, Normana, Waldo; Kindred Public Schools; Richland 44 School District; and the five-county southeast North Dakota Commissioners Association, which includes Dickey, Ransom, Sargent, LaMoure and Richland counties. Minnesota member entities include: Wilkin County; cities of Comstock, Wolverton and Campbell; and townships of Alliance, Holy Cross and Wolverton.
The elected leaders of these 32 political entities voted to combine for one reason: to stop the construction of the dam and 54,000 acre reservoir. We are communicating with state and federal representatives in both North Dakota and Minnesota, every one of them, every week. Our arguments are published weekly in various papers in North Dakota and Minnesota. Our membership continues to grow and we are encouraged with the feedback, both on and off the record, we are getting from policy makers. This week we took another step and authorized our lawyers to commence a judicial challenge to Fargo’s plan. The very same lawyers who were described to us by Congressman Colin Peterson as: “the best in the state.” Our leaders, the Commissioners of Richland and Wilkin Counties, have committed to defend our communities with all appropriate legal action.
We are a substantial organization with deep pockets, thousands of votes and dedicated leaders. We will continue to grow and to fight the destruction of our communities for as long as they are threatened. If you would like to join us or to learn more about our fight please come to our public meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13, at the Christine Community Center.